Mixed wheel sizes are not a new concept. Transition Bikes knows this first hand. With the launch of their heavily revised Patrol, they've also paid homage to its predecessor, the Dirtbag. The wheel sizes themselves have grown but the spirit remains, the new Patrol is dedicated to the send. Vital had a very brief experience with a pre-production Patrol that Transition was kind enough to share. Let's unpack all the changes as well as our initial impression of the Patrol's new haircut.
- 6061 Aluminum frame
- 29-inch front wheel, 27.5-inch rear wheel
- 160mm (6.3-inches) of rear wheel travel // 160mm (6.3-inches) fork travel
- GiddyUp suspension design
- 56mm upper/lower press-in headset cups
- Internal dropper and derailleur cable routing
- External brake routing
- Lifetime warranty
- Optional 170mm rear travel with 65mm stroke shock
- Dual crown compatible
- Threaded bottom bracket with ISCG mounts
- Boost 148 rear spacing with 12mm through axle
- Measured weight (size medium, no pedals): 34.14 pounds (15.48kg)
- MSRP - $5,599 USD
Transition is only offering the Patrol in an alloy frame option, for now. There are still plenty of choices within the Patrol spectrum though. Transition has implemented size-specific chainstay lengths for the Patrol. As with the updated Scout, Sentinel, and Spur, the Patrol will have two different travel options depending on shock stroke. There is a flip chip to adjust the head angle and the 56mm press in headset cups allow for angle sets. Did you also catch the part where this bike is dual crown compatible?
Some brands may market their bikes as slack, or super-slack. Not Transition, they call their 63.5-degree head angle Trail and the 63-degree, Downhill. Now that's slack! The Patrol comes in sizes small through extra large. Small and medium frames have a 434mm chainstay, large and extra-large get 440mm chainstays. Despite many other updates, the Patrol's reach numbers are not so different from prior models, ranging from 420mm to 510mm. Our size medium test bike had a 455mm reach in the Trail setting (450 in Downhill) In an attempt to be more precise with seat angle measurements, Transition uses referenced seat heights for its seat angle. We recommend just examining the geometry chart here.
The Patrol was designed and built around a 27.5-inch rear wheel and 29-inch front and that is the only configuration Transition is offering for the Patrol. Stock travel is 160mm at the rear via a 205x60mm metric shock. Riders can install a 205x65mm shock to achieve 170mm of rear travel. Park rippers will delight in the dual crown approval. Transition stated that riders can even run a 27.5-inch front wheel with a longer travel (200mm) fork to keep geometry numbers close to stock.
Our Patrol was bordering on prototype, definitely as pre-production as they come, while being very close to the finished product. The frame was hand-polished in house as well as clear coated in-house. Our stickers were literally stickers. With that said, there was no geometry and configuration difference between the bike we rode and what riders will buy.
Timing was not necessarily on our side either, as Boise was under a fresh blanket of snow. Hell-bent to ride the Patrol, we bucked up and headed for drier pastures to put rubber in the dirt. Hoisting the Patrol from the back of the truck was all we needed to know about the Patrol's weight - it's up there. We won't claim anything on how the Patrol feels when grinding up your local suffer hill, but on our rather steep fireroad climb, we were more than pleased.
Because time was limited, we did not dig into volume spacers or get to dive deeply into tuning the FOX Factory suspension on our bike. For us, it was 30% sag in the rear. Transition recommends anywhere from 27-33% sag, so we struck for the middle. This would be the time to mention that the Patrol is coil compatible, if there was any doubt. We used the pressure chart on our FOX 38 and pumped in the recommended amount for our body weight. We left the high-speed compression open with low-speed just a few clicks out.
The Patrol we rode represents the top of the model pyramid. Suspension was handled by a FOX Factory X2 rear shock and a FOX Factory 38 fork. Shimano took care of the drivetrain with a 12-speed XT setup and brakes were the matching Shimano XT 4-piston. Transition continues to use the OneUp dropper, which we appreciate. The wheels were DT Swiss EX1700 and wrapped in Schwalbe's Magic Mary/Big Betty 29x2.4-inch tire combination in the Super Trail casing.
You can also find the Patrol models in our Product Guide.
On The Trail
Our time aboard the Patrol was short but this bike is a pretty quick read. After quelling our fears of such a heavy bike, we threw a leg over it and got to the task of pedaling it uphill. With the FOX X2 open, the Patrol was an efficient enough pedaler. Because the majority of the first climb was a fire road, we did lock out the shock and enjoyed a very firm, efficient spin up the mountain.
Later on in our ride, in sprinting back up the (two-way) trail for filming, we found the Patrol to be as eager as anything in this longer-travel class. While we aren't comfortable signing off on the Patrol as an all-day adventurer, we will say there is plenty of giddy up in the Patrol's climbing manors.
We appreciated that Transition did not feel the need to stretch the front of the Patrol way out there. Yes, the head angle is darn slack but the (relatively) normalized 450/455mm reach on our medium kept the Patrol from feeling like a barge on trail. Our body position felt immediately comfortable while grinding it out uphill as well as tossing the Patrol downhill.
When a bike is purpose build as a mixed-wheel setup, the results are really intriguing. Heading into corners, rocks and various trail features, the bike truly feels like a blend of both wheels. The snap of a 27.5-inch rear wheel helps the Patrol come around at a moment's notice, riders can steer with their hips all day. The 29-inch front allows one to lean in and drive with the added muscle that the wagon wheels often need. In short, color us curious!
In testing bikes, it will typically take a couple of rides to get acclimated to a bike. With the Patrol, we were 90% there within the first quarter mile. Despite all the things that make the Patrol so different from many of the long-travel bikes we test, it is an intuitive bike right out of the gate. We knew some of the numbers ahead of time, so we were certainly ready to put our safety in the Patrol's metal hands, but still, this bike is impressive.
We only scratched the surface of what the new Patrol is putting out there. Cornering the Patrol is a matter of leveraging the 29/27.5-inch wheel combo. The big front wheel gives stability in high-speed sweepers, while the smaller back keeps things snappy. One style of trail we would relish to get the bike into would be the super-steep and loose bits from which the Patrol was conceived.
In our time with this bike, we caught glimpses of brilliance and a need to spend a little more time tuning. Setting up the suspension may take a little more finesse with this mullet configuration. We noticed in some larger, rocky bits, a feeling of the bike feeling less balanced. A similar phenomenon we noticed with the Marin Alpine Trail E2, another mixed-wheel bike.
Another bike, another FOX suspension configuration. Brands are pushing hard with the 38 and X2 combo and for good reason. The big bikes of today demand big suspension and the FOX stuff is darn good.
The conditions could not have been better for our Schwalbe Magic Mary/Big Betty combo. Soft, wet soil meant that we we went wide-open into every corner and just leaned into those knobs. Most tires do well in these scenarios but when it comes to total traction, the Schwalbe combo is tough to beat.
Our test bike did not have all the rubber protection and silencing components that production bikes will. That said, the Patrol was plenty quiet and void of any odd rattles or clanks.
Long Term Durability
With a dual crown certification and the intention of maximum send, the Patrol is stout. A bike doesn't hit the 34 pound mark with high end components, without a burly frame. We aren't sure if we could postulate any areas of potential concern.
What's The Bottom Line?
Vital has loved prior iterations of the Patrol, bestowing multiple Shreddy awards. This new haircut brings the Patrol into a new era of mountain biking for today's heaviest-hitting and rowdy riders. Mountain bikers living in areas with demanding terrain and big sends should be jumping for joy, the new Patrol may represent the ultimate tool.
Visit www.transitionbikes.com for more information.
About the Tester
Brad Howell - Age: 41 // Years Riding: 26 // Height: 5'9" (1.75m) // Weight: 165-pounds (74.8kg)
Brad started mountain biking when a 2.25-inch tire was large, and despite having threads, bottom brackets sucked. Riding in the woods with friends eventually lead way to racing, trying to send it at the local gravel pits, and working in bike shops as a wrench to fix those bikes. Fortunate enough to have dug at six Rampages and become friends with some of the sport’s biggest talents, Brad has a broad perspective of what bikes can do and what it means to be a good rider. For a few years Brad worked in the bike industry and got to see the man behind the curtain. These days, though, he just likes riding his bike in the woods with friends.